Prednisone is a prescription medication originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Prednisone is used to treat many conditions including allergies, Crohn’s disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In cases of COPD, Prednisone is usually prescribed for a short term in order to control acute flare-ups. Prednisone is not recommended for ongoing maintenance of COPD. In general, it is best to minimize the length of time you take Prednisone in order to avoid serious side effects.
Prednisone may not be appropriate for pregnant women or people who have systemic fungal infections.
Prednisone is a corticosteroid, a type of hormone that suppresses immune system response. Prednisone is believed to work by inhibiting or blocking many different inflammatory responses within the body.
How do I take it?
Prednisone is usually taken orally once or more times per day. It may also be administered intravenously. If you decide to stop taking Prednisone, it is important to tell your doctor and follow a schedule to taper off your dosage. Do not suddenly stop taking Prednisone.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Prednisone.
When used for acute exacerbations of COPD, corticosteroids have been shown to improve lung function and reduce time spent in the hospital. Corticosteroids may decrease the chances that someone experiencing a COPD flare will have to return to the hospital, receive a chest tube, or die. For some people with COPD, corticosteroids may also reduce the number of acute flare-ups.
A study published in 2013 compared length of treatment with Prednisone used to control acute flare-ups in 296 people with COPD. Participants were either given Prednisone for five days or 14 days. Treatment for five days was found to be no less effective than treatment for 14 days.
When taken for a short time, Prednisone can cause side effects including high blood sugar, fluid retention, rounding of the face known as “moon face,” insomnia, euphoria, depression, anxiety and mania.
Longer-term effects of taking Prednisone can include diabetes, weight gain around the trunk, dementia, osteoporosis that may result in fractures, Cushing’s syndrome, glaucoma and cataracts.
People taking Prednisone or other corticosteroids are more susceptible to infection due to the immunosuppressive nature of the drug.
Like all corticosteroids, Prednisone can cause psychological side effects such as mood swings, aggression, agitation or nervousness. Notify your doctor if these changes become intense or difficult to manage.
Rarely, Prednisone can also cause allergic reactions. Get medical help immediately if you experience difficulty breathing or swelling in the face, throat, eyes, lips or tongue.